Identify and Overcome Weaknesses that Matter
Leaders often believe their relationships are more positive than they are.
You feel good about relationships when results are good. But, results and relationships aren’t the same thing.
“People who are smart and self assured are often very skillful at justifying their thinking and behavior – to the point of being in denial about their weaknesses and the threats they face.” Robert Bruce Shaw
I asked Robert, author of, “Leadership Blindspots,” to talk about light bulb moments for leaders. He said the lights come on when leaders realize their relationships aren’t as positive as they believe.
In his own words (1:32):
Shaw lists 20 common leadership blindspots in relation to self, teams, companies, and markets. Listed below are six.
6 common leadership blindspots:
- Overestimating your strategic capabilities.
- Valuing being right over being effective.
- Failing to balance the what with the how.
- Not seeing your impact on others.
- Believing the rules don’t apply to you.
- Thinking the present is the past.
The “people are different” blindspot (1:32):
5 ways to shine the light on blindspots:
- See it for yourself. Stay connected with people in the organization.
- Seek disconfirming data.
- Develop peripheral vision. Create openings for contrarians, for example.
- Build a network of advisors.
- Promote productive fights. Embrace high-level conflicts; shun low-level conflicts.
Not all bad:
The tendency to overestimate strengths isn’t all bad.
Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx became the youngest self-made female billionaire in history because she wasn’t as intimidated as she should have been. She writes, “What you don’t know can become your greatest asset if you’ll let it and you have the confidence to say, I’m going to do it anyway…” (From, “Leadership Blindspots”)
What blindspots have you seen in others or yourself?
The kindle version of Leadership Blindspots is available now. Print versions ship on 4/21/14.
Dan, the blog today really took me back. Took me back to my own journey, reminding me of all the times as a young leader that I tried to hide my weaknesses (and the ones I was yet to discover), and after being fired having a seminal moment of embracing who I wasn’t. All you say in here is true – about what you tend to overestimate in yourself, about your impact on others, AND about having advisers and seeking out the ‘disconfirming’ information, and having robust dialog.
The second ‘take me back’ is when I had leader on my senior team tell me that the best thing I ever asked her was whether she would rather be ‘right or effective.’ Today, in my coaching practice, I see this in many of the ‘strong-willed’ leaders I coach. They have a lot of energy invested in ‘being right,’ as if ‘right’ was the end game. It isn’t. In fact, in my experience, it is often not close to effective or the best action/behavior necessary.
Today, I look at my journey and how it lead to more of a ‘palms up’ living and learning (what am I missing, what is there here to learn, to teach me). Thanks for the trip down memory lane, and the reminder about some crucial keys to being a more effective leader.
Thanks Jim. I love it when you share your story. Powerful!
I hate to think how long it took me to see the right vs. effective tension. Frankly, I still prefer being right!! 🙂
Yes yes yes Scotomas everywhere!!!!
One thing be VERY wary of anyone telling or sharing with you what NOT to do.
Better to use ones grey matter focused on what to do.
Now the straight up Truth Dan is 80% employee disengagement. When you say Leaders often think things are better in their relations….we can clarify that. So called egotistical idiotic bumblers with titles mistakenly assume people are following them!!! They are apparently mistaken 80% of the time.
Why does that matter? For me two things important to me!!
Oxy production versus cortisol production and money!!!
I can’t show you the money!!! At least 365 billion of it cause that is how much we lose on the US per year to theft and lack of productivity in the workplace….due to lack of employee engagement!!
Lack of oxy means abundance of cortisol caused by stress results in pain turns into stealing or loafing off!!
More oxy produced happy feeling groovy folks who are engaged and productive!!!
Just when you are relating with the folks, just concentrate on how to get oxy gushing through their veins. Not concentrating on what not do not.
What we focus on we recognize. Seek and you find, what do you think that means???
Ok I am off to get the oxy gushing!! The folks I am getting ready to meet have no idea what good feelings are in store for them!!
Surround yourself with people who will tell you the truth. And listen.
So Karin, what happens if I am all screwed up and delusional?
Then I surround myself with people who support my Truth and Delusion. Right?
The supportive folks seem to be saying all the rights things, all the chimes going off, right?
I mean we have numerous examples of atrocious people doing horrific things, Hitler, Stalin. Jim Jones, David Koresh.
Didn’t they all surround themselves with people who told them their Truth was coolish?
I am not saying I know better. Frankly I don’t. Hehe a brief moment of modesty enjoy the short time it lasts!!! Lol
I guess it boils down to Truth according to who? Or is that to whom? My Momma is the English PHD, not me!!!
I am the oxy gusher and poor speller and typo creator!!!!
Anyways on the surface what you wrote seems all warm and fuzzy. After pondering just not so sure it is that simple.
Did spur great curiosity between my ears!
One of the pivotal moments for me in understanding blind spots was a leadership training I attended where they taught us what blind spots were, how to look for them, how to address them, etc. Just bringing the concept out in the open and recognizing that we all have blind spots was the first step to really analyzing myself. Then we followed that up with a 360 feedback process, which was one of the most valuable growth experiences for me. Getting true feedback from others at all levels was so insightful as to what others perseptions were of me. It was easy to see where my blind spots were then!
It’s not a once & done kind of process though. Each role you are in and each team you are a part of has different dynamics and viewpoints so it is good to always be asking for feedback from your teams so you can continue to develop in your own leadership journey.
My weakness regarding effectiveness hasn’t been about being right so much as having my way. Flexibility of execution wasn’t a privilege I granted my team. This was a direct cause of my less than optimum results for many years.
Shining light on the blind spots is the difficult part. I am forever tripping over them and they always take me by surprise. You present five good suggestions for working on that. Thanks, Dan.
Idea: Reward the best re -title of your daily blog post. Mine that I just tweeted for this post: “Own Your Leadership Blind Spots”.
$1,000,000 will be sufficient.
Or just the honor of a fav or RT from the auspicious Dan Rockwell (or the leader he spoke to for that post). Probably just an occasional exercise. Not daily.
My blind spots? The facts that I think I have a million blind spots. So kind of a meta awareness. Or low self esteem of my low self esteem (really more self assessment, than esteem). I lost you, didn’t I? 😀
Good post Dan.
#1….we all have them! : )
Your first sentence is huge!
‘Leaders often believe their relationships are more positive than they are.’
This happens most often because there isn’t enough openness and honesty in relationships.
If honesty was the foundation of the relationship/team/organization, there would be few people running around with blinders on. It would be easier to see things AS THEY REALLY ARE instead of doing one of two things we humans tend to do most often. We either OVER-estimate the value and qualities of certain people. Or we UNDER-estimate them.
Personally, I tend to OVER-estimate the value and qualities of people in the beginning. And then there’s the huge reality CRASH that happens once the illusion shatters. We have to be very careful about putting people up on pedestals. Sure, we want to believe the best in everyone however there is a difference between believing that everyone has the POTENTIAL for ‘wonderful’… doesn’t mean that’s how people are currently living. It is hugely problematic to mistake people to be of high integrity and honest when in reality, they are chronic liars, as an example. One pulled right out of my own life history.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is under-estimating the true value of people. Although I do see women who do this with other women, in my experience, I see men do this the most. Not sure if it’s mostly projection going on or what. I just know that it happens far too much in the world and so many human beings are far GREATER and have far more value and potential then they’ve been treated in life. ( especially people all over the world who continue to be dehumanized)
Intentionally creating the space for honesty to take place in critical. None of us can truly be aware of our own blind spots without TRUSTED people in our lives to help us see where and what they are.
People also have to be willing to be vulnerable in order for that kind of trust and honesty to happen.
Thanks for sharing Dan.
Good morning Dan
At 55 years of age, my life’s experience have revealed to me that the vast majority of leaders know exactly what their ‘Blind-spots/weaknesses’ are. Here’s where we separate “the men from the boys, Great Leaders from poor leaders”. Great leaders will seek the council of wise experienced leaders and confidants, they take their advice and through self examination and self improvement rise above their personal short comings. Then there’s the ‘flip-side’. Many who hold positions of leadership and authority prefer to remain as they are. For one thing, many will not publicly admit their blind-spots for fear of looking weak, inadequate, and incompetent. Then there’s the boss that could quite frankly could care less. They could care less is you have faith in them, they could care less if you believe in them, all they care about is that you recognize “they are the BIG BOSS-MAN. Character, consistency, competence, and a crystal clear vision, combine that with an attitude to be the best person you can be, “now that’s a leader”. THATS THE KIND OF LEADER I WANT TO BE…
Nobody said it would be easy, “and it’s not”. Being your best requires you give it your best. Truly great leaders are willing to make the sacrifice to become great, those who are not willing will never be great…
A positive leader requires a positive follower – and vice versa.